A call to any historians out there!!! I’m trying to figure out what Baldur von Schirach did to receive the Iron Cross Second Class, the Infantry Assault Badge, and the War Merit Cross 1st class without swords (civilian award likely while he was Gauleiter). I’m aware of the criteria for the decorations, but I’m hoping to find what specifically he did to receive them. I know he rose from the rank of Private to Lieutenant with the Großdeutschland division, and that he was a part of machine gun detachment, and that they suffered heavy casualties in France leading to Dunkirk. 

Danish SS-Sturmbannführer Christian Frederik von Schalburg, the commanding officer of Frikorps Danmark, photographed in 1942. He joined Waffen-SS in September 1940 and served with the Wiking Division during Operation Barbarossa in 1941. Just three weeks after the outbreak of war with Soviet Union he was awarded the Iron Cross Second Class and a month later the Iron Cross First Class. Schalburg led Frikorps Danmark in the fighting in Soviet Union in the spring of 1942 until he fell on 2 June 1942 at age 36.


history meme - (1/8) women

Hanna Reitsch (1912–1979) was a German aviatrix and one of the most well-known Nazi test pilots. She was the only woman awarded the Luftwaffe Pilot/Observer Badge (1941) and the Iron Cross, First Class (1943) during World War II. Fascinated with flying from an early age, Reitsch reportedly attempted to jump off the balcony of her home at the age of 4 in eagerness to experience flight. At her death she had set over 40 aviation altitude and endurance records both before and after World War II and any of her records have yet to be beaten.

In 1937, Reitsch was made a Luftwaffe civilian test pilot, a post she would hold until the end of World War II, and tested several bombers for which she received the Iron Cross, Second Class, from Adolf Hitler in 1941. Reitsch was the first female helicopter pilot and her flying skill, desire for publicity and photogenic qualities made her a star of Nazi Party propaganda in which she appeared throughout the late 1930s. In 1942, she crash landed on her fifth Messerschmitt Me 163 Komet flight and was badly injured and Reitsch received the Iron Cross, First Class, a few days after the accident. On 28 February 1944, she presented her idea of Operation Suicide to Hitler who, however, “did not consider the war situation sufficiently serious” to warrent it. In October 1944, Reitsch was shown a booklet concerning the gas chambers. While she claimed she believed it to be enemy propaganda, she agreed to inform Heinrich Himmler about it. Himmler asked her if she believed it and she replied, “No, of course not. But you must do something to counter it. You can’t let them shoulder this onto Germany.” During the last days of the war, Hitler dismissed Hermann Göring as head of the Luftwaffe and instead appointed Reitsch’s lover, Generaloberst Robert Ritter von Greim, after they had flown into embattled Berlin to meet him in the Führerbunker. Red Army troops were already in Berlin when Reitsch and von Greim arrived on 26 April in a Fieseler Fi 156 Storch but with her long experience at low-altitude flying over Berlin and having already surveyed the road as an escape route, Reitsch landed on an improvised airstrip in the Tiergarten near the Brandenburg Gate. They left again on 28 April under heavy shooting from Soviet troops who feared that Hitler was escaping in the plane but the it took off successfully. Before leaving, Hitler gave Reitsch and Von Greim a cyanide phial each before dismissing them from the bunker.

Reitsch was captured soon after the fall of the Third Reich and was held and interrogated for eighteen months. Her companion, von Greim, committed suicide on 24 May. After her release, Reitsch settled in Frankfurt am Main. Following the war, German citizens were barred from flying powered aircraft, but within a few years gliding was allowed, which she took up and in 1952, she won a bronze medal in the World Gliding Championships in Spain as the first woman to compete. From 1962 to 1966, she lived in Ghana, where she founded the first black African national gliding school and worked for Kwame Nkrumah. In 1970, she gained the Diamond Badge. While in Ghana, Reitsch’s attitudes to race changed: “Earlier in my life, it would never have occurred to me to treat a black person as a friend or partner…” She now experienced guilt at her earlier “presumptuousness and arrogance”. In her final interview in the 1970s, she, however, remarked that “many Germans feel guilty about the war. But they don’t explain the real guilt we share — that we lost.” Reitsch died in Frankfurt at the age of 67, on 24 August 1979, reportedly after a heart attack. It is, however, known that she somehow had managed to retain her cyanide capsule and some believe that Reitsch, who had made a suicide pact with her lover von Greim, may have been fulfilling her end of the pact by taking the capsule. Unfortunately, no post mortem was ever made on her body to confirm this (+more).

Portrait of SS-Rottenführer Werner Kindler of the Leibstandarte Division taken in 1943. He survived at least 84 days of close quarters combat and was awarded on 1 April 1945 the Close Combat Clasp in Gold, being one of the 631 men awarded this decoration. He was also awarded the German Cross in Gold, the Iron Cross First and Second Class, the East Medal and the Gold Wound Badge, having been wounded six times in action. Kindler served in Soviet Union, Italy, Normandy, in the retreat across France and Belgium, in the Ardennes campaign, in Hungary and finally in Austria, where he sank his half-track in the River Enns and surrendered to American forces on 10 May 1945, with the Soviets in hot pursuit. He wrote his his memoirs after the war, Mit Goldener Nahkampfspange – Werner Kindler, Ein Panzergrenadier der Leibstandarte (in English as Obedient Unto Death: A Panzer Grenadier of the Leibstandarte-SS Adolf Hitler Reports).

Leutnant Léon Degrelle photographed during the offensive into the Caucasus in the summer of 1942. During this period Degrelle, serving with the Walloon Legion, was awarded the Iron Cross both Second and First Classes.

SS-Sturmbannführer Joachim Peiper (right) decorates a soldier of the Leibstandarte Division with the Iron Cross Second Class during Operation Zitadelle in July 1943. Behind is his adjutant SS-Untersturmführer Werner Wolff, awarded the Knight’s Cross shortly afterwards.

SS-Sturmbannführer Jonas Lie photographed in 1943 in Waffen-SS officer uniform. Lie had served with the Leibstandarte Division in 1941 and had received the Iron Cross Second Class. A tough, ambitious man (and best-selling mystery writer in his spare time), he was second-in-command of the Den Norske Legion in 1942-1943 during the fighting on Leningrad Front.

Finnish Jewish Major Leo Skurnik (1907-1976). Scientist, doctor, and aspiring concert pianist, Leo Skurnik joined the Finnish Army as a medical officer when war broke out. Serving with Jakavälki Rykmentti 53 (53 Infantry Regiment), Skurnik was responsible for the unit’s medical care and welfare. While posted to Kiestinki’s Pocket in 1941, Skurnik took over part of the treatment duties for 6. SS-Nord.

By August of that year, the Soviets had almost completely surrounded both units. Under heavy Russian shelling, Skurnik decided the units’ combined field hospital had to be evacuated. At great risk to his own life, Skurnik led 600 wounded Finns and Germans through 5.5 miles of bogland under enemy fire, eventually bringing them all back safely to their own lines. For this, he was recommended for an Iron Cross Second Class (EKII). Said Colonel Wolf Halsti: "Major Skurnik did not only take care of the wounded, he also went himself to the frontline and brought them back under enemy’s fire. Whether it was a Finn or German, he brought them safe.“ 

When General Hjalmar Siilasvuo informed Skurnik that he had been recommended for the EKII, he laughed it off, saying he’d wait to see how long it took Berlin to refuse the award once they found out he was Jewish. To Skurnik’s great surprise, the medal was approved. When Skurnik learned this, he told General Siilasvuo: “My good friend, do you think I can take that kind of decoration? Tell your German colleagues that I wipe my arse with it!” The infuriated Germans demanded the general hand Skurnik over for punishment. Siilasvuo refused.